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James Roosevelt I

James Roosevelt I

American businessman and father of American president Franklin Delano Roosevelt
The basics
Occupations Entrepreneur
Countries United States of America
A.K.A. James Roosevelt I, James Roosevelt, Sr.
Gender male
Birth July 16, 1828 (Hyde Park)
Death December 8, 1900 (New York City)
Father: Isaac Roosevelt
Spouse: Sara Roosevelt
Children: Franklin Delano RooseveltJames Roosevelt Roosevelt
Education Union College
Authority Library of congress id VIAF id
The details

James Roosevelt I (July 16, 1828 – December 8, 1900), known as "Squire James", was an American businessman and horse breeder, and the father of American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Early life

Roosevelt was born on July 16, 1828 in Hyde Park, New York, He was the son of businessman Isaac Daniel Roosevelt (1790–1863) and Mary Rebecca Aspinwall (1809–1886). Isaac's parents were businessman and politician Jacobus Roosevelt III and Catherine Welles. His maternal grandparents were John Aspinwall and Susan Howland.

In 1847, James Roosevelt graduated from Union College in Schenectady, New York.


Roosevelt's business interests were primarily in coal and transportation. He was vice president of the Delaware and Hudson Railway and president of the Southern Railway Security Company.

Personal life

Before his marriage, Roosevelt was considered an eligible bachelor: tall, slender, and wealthy, with considerable society connections. In 1853, he married his second cousin, Rebecca Brien Howland (1831–1876). They had one son, James Roosevelt "Rosey" Roosevelt (1854–1927), who married Helen Schermerhorn Astor (1855–1893).

Four years after Rebecca's death, he met a sixth cousin named Sara Ann Delano (1854–1941) at a party celebrating graduation of his distant cousin Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (1858–1919) from Harvard University. James and Sara were married on October 7, 1880, and became the parents of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882–1945), who married Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962). James reportedly was a good father to Franklin, but his recurring heart problems eventually made him an invalid. Franklin reacted by becoming fiercely protective of his father.

James died twenty years after he married Sara and left the bulk of his estate to her, and a modest inheritance to Franklin. He is buried at the churchyard at St. James Episcopal Church in Hyde Park; his grave is flanked by those of his wives.

In popular culture

Roosevelt is voiced by John Lithgow in The Roosevelts, a 2014 documentary series by Ken Burns.

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